NASA SBIR 2004 Solicitation


SUBTOPIC TITLE:Multifunctional Autonomous Robust Sensor Systems
PROPOSAL TITLE:Active Pixel HgCdTe Detectors With Built-in Dark Current Reduction for Near-Room Temperature Operation

SMALL BUSINESS CONCERN (Firm Name, Mail Address, City/State/Zip, Phone)
EPIR Technologies
590 Territorial Dr.
Bolingbrook ,IL 60440 - 4881
(630) 771 - 0201

PRINCIPAL INVESTIGATOR/PROJECT MANAGER (Name, E-mail, Mail Address, City/State/Zip, Phone)
Silviu   Velicu
590 Territorial Dr.
Bolingbrook, IL  60440 -4881
(630) 771 - 0201

TECHNICAL ABSTRACT (Limit 2000 characters, approximately 200 words)
High sensitivity HgCdTe infrared arrays operating at 77K can now be tailored in a wide range of wavelengths from 1 to 14 microns. However, due to the cooling requirements, they consume large amounts of power and are bulky and unsuitable for many NASA applications. During Phase I, we demonstrated the feasibility of employing dark current skimming to increase the operating temperature of HgCdTe mid-wavelength infrared devices to temperature regimes attainable by thermoelectric (TE) cooling. This work will be applied to two-color detectors and 320 ? 256 focal plane arrays during the proposed Phase II effort, leading to the next generation of HgCdTe infrared focal plane arrays. Multicolor detection will involve only an incremental development of the current skimming employed in Phase I. The resistor used in Phase I for skimming will be replaced with a photovoltaic detector that will have two functions: first, it will allow skimming by collecting part of the current flowing through the main detectors, and second, it will act as an independent detector for a second color. By employing a non-equilibrium mode of operation for the same detector, the majority and minority carrier densities will be greatly reduced. This will suppress Auger recombination processes in the active layers, and lead to dramatic increases in recombination lifetimes, dynamic impedances and detectivities. The proposed effort will exploit the excellent optoelectronic properties of bandgap tunable HgCdTe, the recent advances in the heteroepitaxial growth of this material by the flexible MBE manufacturing technique and innovative concepts such as dynamic dark current skimming and Auger suppression.

POTENTIAL NASA COMMERCIAL APPLICATIONS (Limit 1500 characters, approximately 150 words)
The FPAs developed in this program could be incorporated in the Multifunctional Autonomous Robust Sensor System (MARSS) due to their increased autonomy. It will also be a strong asset to numerous NASA current and future programs (Sofia, Herschel, Planck, Fair, and Maxim). Space-based observations of atmospheric quality and crop monitoring would also benefit.

POTENTIAL NON-NASA COMMERCIAL APPLICATIONS (Limit 1500 characters, approximately 150 words)
Manufacturers could utilize near room temperature IRFPAs in various industrial control applications. Temperature monitoring, especially over large areas, is an important component of many industrial processes. Preventive maintenance on manufacturing equipment could be performed after the infrared detection of "hot spots". IRFPAs are presently in use for such tasks, but more robust and lower cost arrays would be of great benefit. Law enforcement agencies would utilize the IRFPAs in security and surveillance systems. For example, police could detect suspects hidden in darkness or under foliage. In addition, fire fighters could see through obscuring smoke. Building security would also benefit from the low cost operation without the need for illumination. High cost has been a major drawback of present-day technology in these areas. Environmental applications include pipe leak detection, determining the status of high power electrical systems, assessing hazardous materials spills, and analyzing automobile exhaust emissions. The early detection of arterial blockage and skin cancer would be among many medical areas that would benefit from the proposed technology.

Form Printed on 08-01-05 13:52